Skip to main content
north_korea_internet
TechTank

The Forces That Could Rip the Internet Asunder

and

The core strength of the Internet is the network’s ability to transcend geographic boundaries. The borderless Internet has enabled powerful network effects that promote commerce, trade, communications, and the cross-border flow of information. Yet several powerful and global forces are converging to threaten the Internet.

Threats to the Internet

  • Trade Deals– Differences in how countries regulate digital goods has created tension in trade discussions. If mega-trade deals like the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership are to succeed, nations will have to compromise their differences and agree to certain basic principles.
  • Cybersecurity– Cyberattacks from both governments and non-state actors have accelerated in the past few years. This has led to mistrust and cross-border tensions. Concern over these issues leads to proposals that have the effect of restricting information flow across countries.
  • Countering Surveillance Efforts– The Edward Snowden disclosures have enraged many American allies. Some have considered requiring electronic data to be stored without national borders to as to ensure that digital practices conform to national laws.
  • Repressive Regimes–  Countries including Cuba and North Korea have created closed intranets. This allows government leaders to prevent the sharing of information to tamp down dissent.

Cameron Kerry has recommended several policies to degrade the threat of balkanization. He argues the United States should strengthen its own privacy protection regime to reassure wary allies. Ensuring that trade deals preserve open data flows is also critical to protecting the Internet. The United States should use its diplomatic heft to fight for an open Internet that allows users all over the world to have the same experience. Finally the United States should continue to relinquish control of the Internet. Future administrators must also have protections against interference from all governments including the United States.

Internet_Balkanization

Source: Huffington Post

As the Internet has evolved it has made the world smaller. This process exponentially accelerated every person’s potential to share information. There is a huge temptation to restrict open data flows to protect against 21st Century threats. It’s critical to resist this urge and join together as a community of Internet users. This will ensure that the Internet will continue to realize benefits for every citizen of the world.

To learn more, RSVP to the upcoming event “Is the Internet Starting to Fracture?”

Authors

J

Joshua Bleiberg

Ph.D. student - Vanderbilt University

Former Research Analyst - The Brookings Institution

Get daily updates from Brookings